Browse Tag: sewing

How to Hem Jeans

If you cannot view this video please view it on YouTube at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3_lYrfOSN0

I went through all my blog posts and was surprised to see I haven’t posted a tutorial on how to hem your jeans or pants! I have done this basic tutorial in the form of a YouTube video so that you can follow step by step how I change my pants to be slightly shorter. I find most women do not sew anything for themselves, let alone alter their own pants to fit. Unless you’re buying new you can’t pick and chose the length of your jeans! Most times I end up with pants that are way too long. The only time I don’t have to alter them is the boyfriend or cropped style which is mean to be capri length.

I hope you find this tutorial useful! Be warned if you are highly trained in the art of sewing, I do not use correct terminology – technique or fancy bells and whistles. This is a basic, beginner tutorial to get by!

Recovered Wingback Chair

wingbackchaircomplete It has been decided that my home is a source of work to my family, not often do they come by for a nice visit with a cup of tea and relaxation. It seems to always been that there is a task I need assistance with. While most people have bigger eyes than their stomachs, I have bigger ideas than my hands can create… every now and again.

My latest source of thrifty enjoyment is reupholstering furniture. This most recent project, or series of projects was actually inspired by my sister, who had been inspired by my altering clothing… a lovely creative cycle! She recovered her desk chair with a lovely black and white damask fabric to cover up all the “art” her cat had made with her claws into the original fabric. In her own way she came up with a plan for the pattern, purchased the fabric she wanted to use and completed the recovering using a method of elastic that would hug the fabric to the seat underneath.

When I was sifting through the fabric at Value Village recently with my parents, intending to find some fabric my mother could use to make yoga bags – I found this beautiful celery green fabric – and a lot of it! It dawned on me that maybe I could use this to recover my wingback chair in my living room that I had thrifted for $20 last summer. It seemed as though the more it was used the worst it looked, including the fact that it cannot be cleaned – soap simply makes it an ungodly disaster.

There appeared to be an endless amount of this fabric for $10, first pitching the idea to my mother to see what she thought. It was an instant hit with her as well! Little did I know, this project was a massive 3 day undertaking. I am not sure exactly what I had thought (aside from the giddy childlike oggling of my favourite colour) but seemed to think it would be a one evening stapling type of job. My mother in her own way, a perfectionist and master of the hand stitch. Her plan was a little more realistic.

Chair, Before & After We planned for a full Saturday of sewing beginning at 9:30am. We decided to do the smart thing and create a pattern out of quilt batting… Followed by laying it out on our fabric a few different ways until finally all the pieces fit, save for the back panel. This is why it is usually better to buy 10 metres of fabric rather than piece together using what you’ve randomly found!

By noon my sister had arrived only to ask if we had just started…! I suppose the chair didn’t look like much after 3 hours but we had done plenty of preparatory work! By the end of the day we had about 2 thirds of the chair completed, my assistance ending roughly around the 1 third mark when my mother switched to her hand sewing art. By day 3 all that remained were a few hand stitched details (her perfectionist ways!) and putting a back on it. Fabricland was having a three day sale conveniently so we picked out a similar fabric that we would do the back panel in seeing as we ran out of fabric!

I must say the chair looks far better than I could have ever imagined. We removed the dust ruffle from the base to expose the wood structure, removed the arm rest openings and gave the whole chair a new modern look!

 

Sweater Re-Design

STREETWEARALTERATION I ventured into Urban Planet a store I generally stay far away from, but I was on the hunt for warm patterned leggings. I had no luck in the leggings department but I did find myself looking through all the discounted sweaters. I saw this sweater dress-tunic on for under $10… It was just the sort of style I had been hoping to find in my thrift adventures but have not yet discovered one. I wasn’t sure about the length but perhaps it would be good with leggings.

The day came when I decided to wear it – all I could think was: “Wow I’m so glad they didn’t have a medium!” It was a large so I figured it would be on the big side and was the only thing I didn’t bother to try on. My arms barely fit in the sleeve! I’d hate to be any bigger than my current size or this “large” would be super snug! The spacious area is actually only in the neckline, assuming I had a larger canvas to fill it out with.

STREETWEAR SWEATER In trying it on in front of my mirror I decided there was nothing flattering about the length, it almost went to my knees and was just a solid tight grey knit with nothing forgiving about it. I’ve never been afraid to chop up clothing so I pinned the length I decided would be most flattering – half way down the bum but covering the hip. And because I liked the bottom pattern so much I decided instead of a simple hem I would bring up the bottom pattern and minimize the solid grey.

I did not take step by step photographs of this process as quite honestly I was expecting it to be a bust! Apparently I should have a lot more faith in my re-constructive skills! It wasn’t an overly complicated process, folding most of the grey over to bring up the bottom trim. Doing a straight stitch on the sewing machine to attach the bottom section to the top section. Once complete I had (on the inside) a several inch long folded section of solid grey knit.

To remove the excess I simply cut the folded extra fabric and removed it from the sweater altogether. On the outside it looks like a planned hemline…. if you actually analyze it you’d know a sweater like this shouldn’t have a hem! I like to be sneaky like that.

Neckline Redesign

DIY-NECKLINEI’ve had this top for years but it has always frustrated me due to it’s awful neckline. There are many tops similar to this that I see come through the Store, but they always seem to fold nicely. There is something about this top, or perhaps my build that absolutely cannot pull off this design.

Today (because I needed it for my outfit) I decided to make some adjustments. Because of the intricate nature of what I was about to undertake, I had to resort to hand stitching directly on my mannequin. I figured doing it by hand would ensure that both sides were aligned nicely and the folds would be in place.

It was by no means a huge change but enough to make a much nicer neckline for my body type.

 

 

Orange Sherbet

Zara BlazerI am known for my love of scarves and pashminas, rarely am I seen without them! Lately I have been loving this pale sherbet orange colour, it keeps popping up during my thrifting adventures! Last week this beautiful scarf came into the store – it didn’t get far!

I picked up an Old Navy shift dress for less than $10 at Value Village last week, but even at a size medium, my curves were just too much for it. I loved the print regardless and decided to shorten it into a top. That was easy enough to alter, but something was still wrong in the chest area. It was pulling, but not in a way that would suggest it was too small – but in the shoulder and arm area. I cannot understand why but more and more tops are being made with exceptionally small sleeves!
Old Navy Alteration
The easy fix to this conundrum was simply to chop the sleeves off! No problem at all and now I have a really cute cami to wear under cardigans and blazers!

Another great find is this sequined jacket by Zara! I spent more than I typically do on this sort of thing, but knowing how expensive the brand is, I decided it was unique enough to be worth the whopping $15 🙂 I paired it today with a super soft denim shirt by GAP, my sherbet orange pashmina and new thrifted GAP jeans! Wouldn’t you know it, the new Nine West flats were an excellent match to the blue in the jacket!

From Flare to Straight

GAP JeansYou know that feeling you have when you try on a pair of jeans and they feel amazing? No pinching, no crotch-biters, no saggy lines, no muffin top… They just look awesome?

I recently discovered by chance the perfect fit jeans for me, GAP 1968 “Sexy Boyfriend” jeans are it. Now these bad boys retail for $80, which I wouldn’t pay even if they were the greatest fit ever, that’s just not me. But $20 at our store? Hells yeah! So my first pair made me deliriously happy, so I went to Value Village on a hunt for this particular pair of jeans. To my surprise that first attempt I found one pair that were also a form of boyfriend jean, in a lighter denim, and a second pair that were a more flared leg style.

Unfortunately with my height, I can not easily pull off a flared leg or the “long and lean” style simply because my feet are barely a size 6. The leg width swallows up my tiny feet! So the jeans I found on my hunt fit great at the hip and thigh which is my hardest place to fit first try without alterations. I wore them once to work but felt like they weren’t quite right. It occurred to me a month later the issue was just that my feet are too small.

Having discovered the issue I was able to test out a solution: transforming the flared leg into a straight leg. I’m certainly you just tilted your head to the side and said “Whaaaa?”

Altering Jeans Altering Jeans
Having Saturday to myself I put them on and began to pin. I wasn’t quite sure what I would need to do but I thought pinning folds would be a good place to start. I ended up doing the legs differently at first, and when I sat down to sew noticed that one was folded nicely with the original seam hiding the fold. So by the time I went to sew the second leg I redid the pinning to have the same finish.

Altering Jeans Altering Jeans

With the denim being dark it hides any sort of flaw in the stitching or folds from the dart I installed near the knee. The end result I was actually really impressed with, you do not see the fold at the top, and the bottom is folded over so it is rather seamless!

Tutorial: How to Close the Gap!

I have come to believe that all clothing is made to fit a variety of shapes and sizes, but that “fit” might not be what’s best for you no matter what you try. We are not built the same, our bodies retain weight in different areas and we sometimes never lose or gain it in the places we hope for. For instance my shape is very hour glass, my thighs and hips are a healthy size – small waist – and then back out for my ribcage. Now most would think this is an easily flattering womanly shape to have, but if you are this shape, you know that isn’t always an easy task.

I cannot speak to all shapes but having seen thousands of women try on clothing at the store, I know its very few and far between when an outfit fits your shape perfectly first try. More often than not is the “model-esque” bodies that appear to look the best in everything, but that is mainly the result of these women having essentially no body fat or curves to worry about. The clothing appears to hang loosely off their body as the designer probably intended. Often we will sigh and say the designers these days just aren’t making clothes to fit “real” women, when really we should be saying to ourselves: this doesn’t work for me, but there will be one that will.

How to Close the GapIn my case bottoms are a real challenge. I have a sizable behind, wide hips and thick thighs – but my waist is very small. Naturally I have to go a size up to fit in the thigh and bum. This also means I will have a lovely gap at the back of my pants due to the serious difference in size between said tush and waist area. Luckily there is a rather simple fix to this issue, so long as you are will to spend a few minutes sewing!

How to Close the Gap I’m now at a point where I don’t really have to measure the amount that it needs to come in, its a rough 1 inch typically. After analysing the fit of the pants in the mirror I estimate how much needs to be taken in. Flipping the pants inside out, I can fold the amount that needs to be removed from the top of the waist to the point where it will meet my bum. This is the length that the “dart” will need to be.

How to Close the Gap Now that you have an idea of how much space needs to be removed, my first step is to unpick the label that is inevitably sewn right into the back of the pants. If you’re lucky it’ll be screen printed to the actual fabric and you won’t have to do this tedious task! Once the label is out you will have an easier time removing the belt loop. Set it aside for reattaching later.

How to Close the Gap With the belt loop off and the label removed you can now fold the centre back of the pants at the seam. I like to fold it tightly and pin so that it doesn’t shift, making sure the reverse side seam is lined up. This isn’t crucial its just a nice little detail to be aware of. I often forget!

How to Close the Gap With my sewing machine I begin with a stitch that runs from the top of the fold (in this case about 1 cm into the fold) and angle the stitch slowly toward the edge of the pant. This so called “dart” makes the alteration taper nicely, unnoticeable even!

How to Close the Gap Once your folded stitch has been completed – I usually do it a max of 2 inches long – try the pants on to see how they fit. If all has gone smoothly you won’t have to make any further adjustments. Worst case scenario you’ll have to remove the thread with a seam ripper and try again either folding more fabric or less, perhaps making the length of the dart longer or shorter depending on the issue.

IMG_7116 And finally, once you are completely happy with the adjustments you’ve made you may (if you want it to be permanent) trim the excess from the fold and reattach the belt loop by stitching it on manually.

Reconstruction

Dress ReconstructionI often sift through the dress rack from large to small, no particular reason for starting at one end over the other it’s just an interesting observation. I live to reconstruct dresses to it me so I suppose it comes from the simple fact of not being able to adjust dresses that are too small to begin with.

I found this dress at a half price sale as I was digging through the racks. I was completely intrigued by the print, so vibrant and unlike any I’d seen before. The Value Village tag guessed that it was a size 14… Let me just say there’s no way that dress was that big. It was a terrible style, boxy and shapeless. It appeared to be handmade based on the finish of the lining and no label.

I paid about $5 for it with the intent to redesign it. The project was relatively simple, I cut the sleeves off and repurposed them as a flare down the sides of the dress around the hip. The neckline was truly unique and I made light of it by folding the rough cut edge and creating a nice finish.

The dress is not finished to professional standards but no one (except you!) has any idea that it was once a gawdy dress from the 80′s. It is now one of my most appreciated pieces, paired with bronze strappy sandals and gold accessories for that extra pop.